Region | Egypt

Egyptian nudist in new secularism stunt

Activist Aliaa Al Mahdy appears nude protesting outside the Egyptian embassy with anti-Islamic slogans

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 20:02 December 20, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Egyptian activist Aliaa Al Mahdy and members from Femen demonstrate against the Egyptian constitution outside the Egyptian embassy in Stockholm on Thursday.

Dubai: An Egyptian nudist feminist who caused fury among the country’s conservatives for posing nude last year has struck again, this time in Europe.

Twenty-two year old Egyptian activist Aliaa Magda Al Mahdy was pictured fully nude, holding up an Egyptian flag outside the Egyptian embassy in Stockholm on Thursday staging a protest against Egypt’s draft constitution which said by critics to be too Islamist-leaning.

With her were two bare-breasted members of Swedish feminist organisation Femen, known for its topless activism and use of sexual imagery, who held anti-religious placards over their private parts. Slogans targeted Egypt’s president Mohammad Mursi, Islam, and religion in general. A mock Quran was pictured lying on the floor beside the placards outside the embassy. In one picture, three activists posed with mock copies of the Quran, the Bible and the Torah held over their private parts.

Slogans painted on their bodies read “Apocalypse by Mursi”, “Sharia is not constitution” and “Yes secularism”.

A student at the American University of Cairo, Al Mahdy gained fame and notoriety after she published a nude picture of herself on her blog Muthakkarat Tha’ira (Memoirs of a Revolutionary) under the title “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. Viewership of her blog shot up from 10,000 to 110,000 visitors within two days of the posting.

The picture, posted in October 2011, appeared at a time when post revolutionary Egypt saw the rise of conservative Muslim groups such as the ascendance of the Muslim Brotherhood and the hardline Salafist Al Noor party, which had asked its female parliamentary candidates to cover their portraits on campaign posters with flowers.

The activist’s move won praise from Western feminist groups but was criticised by Middle Eastern feminist groups and secularists who disagreed with the way in which her message was conveyed.

Al Mahdy wrote on her blog on December 16 that a planned trip to Paris to stage a similar protest at the Egyptian embassy was cancelled when an official at Gothenburg airport barred her from boarding the plan because she “got a warning” about her. Her blog has over 6 million page views.

Al Mahdy now lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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